The relief on Lin Dan’s face was all too evident after his hard-fought victory over Sony Dwi Kuncoro. The Chinese defending champion is known to bulldoze his opponents with powerful smashes and fast-paced rallies. But the semifinal of the World Badminton Championship on Saturday turned out to be a battle of wits and Dan proved he had enough patience to outwit Kuncoro 21-14, 13-21, 21-15.
The win over last edition's finalist also helped Dan stay on course for a hat-trick of world titles. He will now take on Chen Jin in an all-Chinese final after the second seed thrashed former champion Taufik Hidayat of Indonesia 21-16, 21-6.
The women's singles final will also be an all-Chinese affair after two-time champion Xie Xingfang ended the run of Frenchwoman Pi Hongyan 21-18, 21-8. In the other semifinal, seventh seed Lan Lu upset second seed Lin Wang 21-18, 21-19.
With the men's singles semifinal featuring two Indonesians and two Chinese, all eyes were on whether the Chinese supremacy could be broken. Hidayat surrendered meekly and it looked like Kuncoro would also be annihilated when Dan pocketed the first game with relative easy.
However, Kuncoro had other plans as he slowed the pace of the game and began using high tosses and flat clearances to counter the Olympic champion's jump smashes, which clocked over 300 km/hr.
Kuncoro teased Dan with the flight and the Chinese fell to the plan as unforced errors rose and he could never keep pace with the Indonesian's score.
In the decider, however, Dan proved why he is considered the best when he began to play Kuncoro's game and waited for an opportunity to attack. That unsettled the Indonesian and Dan then suddenly upped the pace of the game to end his opponent's resistance.